Huntley improves to 8-1, knocks Burlington C. out of playoff mix
Already assured of a spot in the playoffs, the Huntley Red Raiders entered the game at Burlington Central with extra motivation.
The Red Raiders knew that to earn a first-round home playoff game next week, they needed to play a disciplined, physical game this week, and they did just that in the 20-10 victory.
"We knew this was going to be a physical game, but we also knew we had to take care of business tonight so we could play at home next week. Central played really hard, but our guys did what they needed to do," Huntley coach Mike Naymola said.
Central (4-5, 4-5), which needed a win to make the playoffs, put the first points on the scoreboard with a David McCoy 29-yard field goal early in the first quarter, but Huntley took control after that.
Running back Haiden Janke had his number called early and often, and he produced. The senior battered his way to 56 yards rushing in the first half and scored Huntley's first touchdown of the game with a two-yard touchdown run in the first quarter.
Janke gained steam in the second half, moving the pile and the chains, to finish with 123 yards on 28 carries.
"Amazing job by the offensive line and it took a little while to get rolling, but we kept working and it paid off for us. Running and passing, we feel good," Janke said.
Quarterback Braylon Bower was equally efficient and effective. The junior threw two perfectly placed long passes that ended in touchdowns. Bower hit Omare Segarra with a 32-yard touchdown in the first half and Jake Witt with a 46-yard score in the second half. Bower finished the game 6-of-11 passing for 108 yards and two touchdowns while also rushing for 42 yards on eight carries.
The defense was physical and fast, keeping the Rockets in check for most of the game. The defense stuffed the running game, limiting them the Rockets to 89 yards rushing. Charles Condon III had a big sack and Benjamin Wean recovered a fumble.
It was senior Jack Laughlin, though, that made two big interceptions halting Central drives.
"Felt really good to get my first pick of the year and then to get another tonight was pretty special, but overall our defense is coming together and the that's the important thing," Laughlin said.
Central fought from start to finish but couldn't capitalize on opportunities.
"We battled like we always do. We needed to finish some drives in the first half, but they left it all on the field and that's all I can ask for," Central coach Brian Iossi said.
Quarterback Jackson Alcorn returned to the lineup after missing time with an injury for much of the season and had some success moving the ball through the air. Alcorn, who finished 7 of 17 passing for 108 yards, threw a two-yard touchdown pass to Caden West for Central's only touchdown of the game.
Running back Joey Kowall had 46 yards rushing and Michael Person had four catches for 43 yards.